Mobile games built on the continent are playing an increasingly significant role in the global market. In the past it was challenging for game developers from Africa to gain access to a global audience.
Africa Games Week takes place in Cape Town from 5-7 December 2020, where these African-made games on the App Store will be showcased. Catering to everyone from casual gamers to augmented reality (AR) enthusiasts, these games are a testament to the skill and creativity coming from the continent.
They’re also built by everyone from VC-backed teams to solo developers, illustrating how easy access to technology has democratised the gaming space.
Building for the App Store, these developers have successfully taken their titles to the world. In creating these titles, they’ve learnt new skills, built businesses and created job opportunities. They’re at the forefront of a rising tide of African game developers.
Built by George-based AR studio Fuzzy Logic, Turbo Drift AR is a brand new title launching on 28 November 2019, which aims to give the traditional Scalectrix experience a contemporary spin through the use of AR. The multiplayer game allows players to choose from dozens of car variations and race on custom tracks, unlocking upgrade kits as they go. Upgrade kits can be used to better the cars’ performance stats or to improve it visually with amazing accessories like wings or devil horns.
“We're really happy with where we are with the game and are excited to let people play for themselves,” says Fuzzy Logic founder Jason Ried. “For us, this is just the start and we hope to add tons of tracks, expand the track builder and eventually build community features which allow players to create tournaments and give out prizes for those that compete.”
Ried says that “Being a South African based game developer is hard, in that we don't have exposure to the same funding opportunities as in Europe or North America. While we can travel to conferences and meet with publishers to raise these, there is naturally an element of risk in that South Africa is far away and unknown.”
Most South Africans are familiar with the concept of “boets”. Obsessed with gym, upper-body muscles, tribal tattoos, spray tans, and cursed with acute narcissism, they’re easily satirised. Stick them in a classic beat-'em-up arcade game based entirely in Johannesburg and the result is Boet Fighter developed by Louis du Pisani. Hip Hop Artist Jack Parrow makes a cameo appearance.
Leveraging the popular “match 3” puzzle mechanic, Naija Crush brings a distinctive African flavour to the genre. Built by self-taught, 24-year old Nigerian developer Samuel Idonor, the game features African characters, artefacts and landmarks.
“It is a game made to showcase Africa to the world,” says Idonor. “As I delved deeper into the gaming world, I realised that there is a wide gap in the global gaming industry for African representation, and I believe this is a large, untapped market”.
That Naija (another name for Nigeria) Crush has been able to launch on the App Store is remarkable given some of the challenges (including erratic power, poor internet connection and limited access to financing) that he faced in building it.
Another play on the “match 3” concept, Monster Match is the fourth title by Cape Town studio Primordial Art Studios. Founded by developer Richard McKenzie - who remains the studio’s one-man development team - all of the titles to date have been inspired by the games McKenzie played when he was young.
“Each game has been a new journey, overcoming new challenges and gaining new perspectives on game design,” says McKenzie. “It has been an amazing learning experience and we only hope it’s as much fun for those who play it as it was making it”.
Built by former hobbyist game developer Jano Booysen, Chippy Golf combines a retro aesthetic with compelling gameplay. Ultimately, Booysen hopes to expand the game with different levels and characters. “Instead of a golfer with a club, you might want to be a bear with a fish or an 18th-century aristocrat with a cane,” he says.
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